30 August 2006

Technology as liberator

Technology has done far more to expand individual freedom and improve human life than ideology has. The enlightened skepticism which eroded away religious certainties during the Renaissance would have had a much harder time getting started without the printing press. It was industrialization and mass production, not ideology, that triggered the greatest explosion of material prosperity in history. It was vaccines and antibiotics and modern nutrition, not ideology, that freed most humans from the scourge of premature death. It was the nuclear bomb, not ideology, that kept the developed world free from major wars from 1945 on (by making the consequences of such wars too terrible to risk). It was mostly modern contraception, not ideology, which began to free human sexuality from ancient religious taboos. Today it is the internet, not ideology, which is enabling ordinary people all over the planet to outflank and roll back the power of big media, totalitarian governments, and the like, and is making censorship (whether motivated by leftist or rightist "concerns") more and more impractical.

And what is coming in the next fifty years is a thousand times greater than all that has gone before.

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